Katherine A. Fitzgerald, PhD, is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of
Infectious Diseases and Immunology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Research in the Fitzgerald laboratory focuses on many aspects of innate immunity and
includes the following areas:
- Molecular basis of pathogen recognition: Our work has focused on the identification and
analysis of receptors involved in innate immune recognition (Pattern Recognition
Receptors) and signaling pathways activated by these receptors. Of particular interest is
the role of the Toll like Receptors as well as cytosolic PRRs including the NOD-like
receptor family as well as the PYHIN protein family (AIM2, IFI16), all of which play
essential roles in innate immunity to viral and bacterial infections.
- Innate immunity to malaria: Malaria is the most important infectious disease in world
history. Little is known about the molecular basis for fever and inflammation during
malaria. Studies are underway to explore the role of cytosolic sensors in the
inflammation and fever induced in malaria infected individuals.
- Type I Interferon gene regulation: Our work in this area has focused on understanding
the molecular basis for activation of the interferon regulatory factors. A major focus is
on the role of the IkB kinase-related kinases, IKK epsilon and TANK binding kinase-1
(TBK1) in phosphorylation-induced activation of IRF3 and IRF7.
- Counter regulation of innate immune recognition: Inflammation and production of
anti-viral interferon is a normal component of the host response to infection. However,
excessive production of these mediators, may contribute to a variety of pathological
states, including autoimmunity. We are studying how dysregulation of innate immune
pathways may contribute to autoimmune disease and exploring the molecular basis for
counterregulation of PRR-driven signaling in an effort to understand the normal
mechanisms which prevent inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
Cutting Edge: FAS (CD95) mediates noncanonical IL-1beta and IL-18 maturation via caspase-8 in an RIP3-independent manner (with Lukas Bossaller, Ping-I Chang, Christian Schmidt-Lauber, Sandhya Ganesan, William J. Kaiser, Vijay A. K. Rathinam, Edward S. Mocarski, Deepa Subramanian, Douglas R. Green, Neal S. Silverman, Ann Marshak-Rothstein, and Eicke Latz), Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) (2012)